The coronavirus is real. Trust me, it canceled my Christmas.
Two days before we were meant to celebrate the birth of Christ, my sensible wife decided to get the whole family tested as we would soon be with our elderly in-laws. Guess who tested positive? Yup. Yours truly. So Christmas was canceled at the Gorka household because of China’s deadliest-ever export. And that infuriates me.
But thanks to my great doctor and the blessings of good fortune, it was a nonevent. I took hydroxychloroquine and the wonder drug Ivermectin. The worst I suffered was the sniffles and the mildest of mild flu symptoms. Compared with many others, my experience was trivial. Thank you, Lord.
But COVID-19 has done incalculable damage to America and the world, even beyond the millions who have died and the untold numbers who contracted the virus and didn’t weather it as easily as I did – from the shocking CDC statistic that 25% of young Americans have contemplated suicide as a consequence of isolation and of government lockdowns to the more than 40 million Americans who lost their jobs after the state-by-state forcible shuttering of mostly small and medium-sized businesses across the land.
These conditions necessitate a strategic response by the “elite” we elect to public office and who are the stewards of the more than $3 trillion we pay in taxes each year. If ever there was a time for government intervention, it would be when people are suffering in the tens of millions.
Well, your government has acted. And its response should shock you and reveal to you just how little has changed in the D.C. “swamp.”
First, we have to ask the question: what took so long? Long before the violent events of January 6 brought a true frenzy to events in the nation’s capital, politics were sabotaging any hope of normalcy in our republic’s response to COVID-19.
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The reigning Speaker of the House was happy to play with the fate of small businesses needing relief way back in April, by holding up the replenishment of the Paycheck Protection Program in an attempt to dictate which types of banks could access the funds.
Congress then participated in a churlish shell game with the eventual relief from the summer that didn’t pass until the very last days of December. But at least the final combined $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed.
You’d think extraordinary times would demand extraordinary measures, responses that are clear, fast, uncomplicated, and – most of all – effective.
But because Congress is broken, the only way our legislators can pass anything is to lump everything they want to do in a single, sprawling spending package… called the budget “reconciliation” bill.
So the vital $900 billion relief package crammed into the Consolidated Appropriations Act. That $1.4 trillion 5,593-page monstrosity had to be wheeled through the halls of Congress on a dolly. Worse, it was presented to those who would decide upon it an absurd six hours before it was to be debated.
If you don’t believe how abusive and monstrous the document is, you can read it for yourself at the site for the House Rules Committee. But I doubt many of you have taken the time. Who could blame you?
So what do you need to know?
One of the few remaining old-school journalists, Joe Concha, wrote an editorial that described the bill as “exactly what one would expect from a dysfunctional, tone-deaf Congress: a pork-filled cluster filled with anything and everything that has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic or relief.”
What is the evidence for such a scathing assessment? Here’s a brief selection:
• $10 million of taxpayer money for “gender programs” in Pakistan.
• $40 million for operation, maintenance, security, and capital repairs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. (The $25 million they received in the last COVID relief act clearly wasn’t enough.)
• $1 billion – yes that’s BILLION – for the Smithsonian Institute and Museums, in part to establish a Women’s History Museum and an American Latino Museum. (Yes, you read that right.)
• Just in case you thought the spirit of SNL was dead, the act mandated the creation of a commission to educate “consumers about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.” (Are you amused? Or angry?)
• And lastly, it includes the following international-aid giveaways that have nothing to do with America:
$700 million to Sudan
$453 million to Ukraine (Any for Hunter, I wonder?)
$135 million to Burma
$130 million to Nepal
$86 million to Cambodia
Now, I live in the swamp, so perhaps I am inured, in part, to the persistent depravity of both sides of the aisle. Yet even I am incensed.
It makes me wonder how people living in real America feel about the above. Those who can’t sit comfortably at home, pulling down a full wage, as they log on to another Zoom call?
How can politicians on Capitol Hill, who can retire on a full taxpayer-funded pension after serving just one term, relate to those folks? Are they even capable of it anymore? Or has tone-deafness been calcified into Marie Antoinette levels of complete detachment and monolithic disdain?
I am lucky. The federal government deemed my work “essential” since I work in broadcast media. After the outbreak, the Department of Homeland Security even issued me and every member of my production team with an official document saying so, should we be challenged in our movements in and around the ghost town that is today’s D.C.
But I think of the millions across America who weren’t so anointed by the powers that be: all the restaurant owners, cooks, bar owners, busboys, or cinema ushers. What makes me “essential,” but not them? What makes the shelf stacker at Walmart essential, but not the bodega owner in Manhattan or the 7-11 shopkeeper in a food desert? Surely, any grown-up who earns a living to feed themselves and their family is engaged in the most basis and indisputable of “essential” activities.
I, for one, am fed up with the childish cries of “choose lives over the economy!” Without work, without the generation of wealth and income, how can there be life? How can our political “betters,” on the Left and Right, justify sending $700 million of our money to Sudan when America loses 140,000 jobs in December?
Just 10% of the money sent to Sudan could have been turned into $500 cash in hand for everyone who lost their job at Christmas… just from one asinine pork-laden line-item that helps no Americans – Democrat, Republican, or apolitical.
But this abomination of a bill is more than a slap in the face to all Americans suffering at this time. It is the ultimate signal of what ails our nation: the rise of the “uniparty.”
This term, almost synonymous with the Deep State, has a disputed parentage. Some people on the Right, such as Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to President Donald Trump, have made the term popular of late, but others have traced its etymology all the way back to the iconoclastic, anti-establishment activist Ralph Nader’s 2002 text Crashing the Party and beyond.
Regardless of who the granddaddy of the phrase is, its importance lies in its capacity to explain how Ukraine and Cambodia are more important to both parties than suffering Americans.
Just look at the last years in national politics. The establishment faced a dual challenge that continues to rock national politics. First, there was the stooped, aged Socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union. Then there was the billionaire reality TV star from Queens. Neither Bernie’s rise nor the Trump presidency can be understood without the other. How can millennials, barely out of college, connect with and scream in approval for an old man unable to comb his hair, unless it is because his calls for “social justice” resonate in ways that show Nancy Pelosi and her $100-per-gallon ice cream interviews for what they are, depictions of a Left that has lost all sense of who they profess to stand up for.
Then there is the remarkable phenomenon of a nonpolitician, a billionaire from Manhattan who declares his run for the GOP nomination for president. He is ridiculed and lambasted by his own party’s celebrities until he defeats all the establishment Republican candidates, one by one. He goes on to defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, despite being outspent 2-to-1. How does this happen? It happens because of the “uniparty.”
Understanding the uniparty’s rise and arrogant dismissal of those who its members are meant to represent is essential to understanding the violence of the last 10 months. Whether it is Antifa or BLM’s desecration of our national monuments… the assault of federal court buildings… or the breach of the hallowed chambers of Congress by MAGA supporters, these acts are all linked. They occurred because Americans on both sides of the political divide have utterly lost faith in the legacy parties’ willingness or even capacity to represent their desires, whether those desires are rational and reasonable, Utopian, or extreme.
Is it not an exaggeration to say that modern politics have become a series of dueling populisms. Whether it is the rise of anti-establishment movements like Brexit in the U.K., the rise of Trumpism and the MAGA Movement in the U.S., or Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Indian populism, together they constitute a global phenomenon. On the other side, you’ll find the old-school socialism, resuscitated in the likes of the “Bernie Bros,” as well as the more modern version of Leftism embodied by AOC and the putative “Social Justice Movement.”
The most important aspect of these rising collective political identities is their common enemy: the reigning establishment. Whatever Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer would like to believe… Donald Trump’s legacy as a one-term president will be indelibly marked by the fact that he had never served in the military or any government office ever before, unlike every single one of the 44 presidents before him, from Washington to Obama.
How that happened is more consequential than even the storming of Congress on January 6, 2021. Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States as a nonpolitician because the Democrats and the GOP not only behave persistently like drunken sailors on payday but because they give other nations – that millions of Americans couldn’t find on a map – more money than they deliver to the people who put them in power. And they do it again and again and again.
President Trump came to “drain the swamp” is a phrase that became one of his campaign’s battle cries. He lost that fight. Yet he achieved incredible feats, from the crushing of ISIS, building more than 450 miles of wall along the Mexican border… recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel… confronting North Korea, Iran, and China… bringing thousands of our troops back home, and – before COVID-19 broke out – creating the conditions for the biggest and greatest economy the world had ever seen. That is why he garnered 12 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016. But it wasn’t enough…
Despite Donald Trump having left the White House, America’s patience with the swamp is wearing paper thin. Just ask the residents of Portland and Seattle, or the members of Congress who had to barricade themselves in their chambers. The establishment must change, or Americans may change it for them. They have before.
Sebastian Gorka, PhD was strategist to the president of the United States, is host of America First on the Salem Radio network, and is a presidential appointee to the Department of Defense’s National Security Education Board. His latest book is The War for America’s Soul. Follow him at @SebGorka. Photo: AP.